PHOENIX - We watched in horror as the catastrophe in Japan began unfolding one week ago. The heartbreaking images coming out of the island nation are especially gut wrenching for the Osterkamp family of Phoenix.
"It is so sad, just too sad," said Kana Osterkamp whose parents live in Japan. Her sister and infant niece traveled there from Boston just before the record temblor hit.
"My sister called and woke me up and 'we're fine' my sister said," Osterkamp recalled with tears in her eyes. "I got so shocked. The good thing, my family was okay."
Kana's family lives just west of Tokyo, away from any major damage, but still dangerously close to the nation's failing nuclear power plant. But so far, they refuse to leave.
"I don't think there's been a dry eye day," said Kana's husband, Jon Osterkamp.
Jon is not just connected to Japan through his wife, he also heads the Phoenix Sister-Cities Himeji committee. He told ABC15 that a group of Phoenicians are in Japan right now teaching English.
Jon said they're all okay and the city of Himeji was largely unaffected because they were far away from the epicenter.
"Kana's mother and father know that by saying they're not leaving, that more or less chains sister and daughter, their daughter and granddaughter, there as well," Jon said.
So for now the Osterkamps wait and worry, praying their family would leave Japan.
"He [Kana's father] said 'no we couldn't go to Okinawa or Kyodo for a week and come back and look our neighbors in the faces after they endured some type of horrific catastrophe,'" Jon said.
"I understand her feeling for staying there because she cannot leave my parents there, so this is a really hard decision for her," Kana said sadly.
Mayor Phil Gordon, Councilman Bill Gates and the Phoenix Sister Cities Himeji Committee announced Friday a Japan Aid Fund that will benefit relief efforts for the recent disasters in Japan.
Monetary donations will be accepted by Phoenix Sister Cities at phoenixsistercities.org or by mailing a check to Phoenix Sister Cities, Himeji Committee Relief Fund, Historic City Hall, 17 S. Second Ave., fourth floor, Phoenix, AZ, 85003 or call 602-534-3751.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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